Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday inaugurated the Skardu International Airport and Jaglot-Skardu road during a day-long visit to the region.
The airport in Skardu was previously only operational for domestic flights. However, its status was elevated on December 2 as it began welcoming international flights as well.
While addressing a large crowd at Municipal Stadium Skardu, the prime minister said the facility’s elevation to an international airport would bring untold changes for the locals.
The premier said that GB had the “most beautiful mountain scenery in the world” but lamented that people did not know enough about it because travel was difficult.
He predicted that tourists, including overseas Pakistanis and domestic tourists, would arrive in large numbers after the upgrade to the airport as well as the road.
“Tourism can become a big asset of Pakistan,” he said, adding that if Switzerland could generate $70 billion from tourism then Pakistan could also generate substantial income from tourism all year long. “We can make at least $30-$40 billion from tourism just in GB,” he said.
The prime minister also highlighted religious tourism and the potential of untapped coastal belt. “We have not taken benefit of the blessings that God has granted us,” he said.
He added the locals would benefit the most from the surge in tourism as they would no longer have to venture far to seek jobs. Instead, people would come to their area to find jobs, he said.
Explaining his vision, the prime minister said that no country can truly develop until it elevates its poor and improves its backward and neglected areas.
“It is my [desire] that by the time our five years are complete, the life in backward areas is better and the lives of people below the poverty line are improved.”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, during his Skardu visit, PM Imran was also scheduled to preside over various meetings on multiple development schemes and review the one-year performance of the Gilgit-Baltistan government.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Highway Authority said the road was a gift for the locals by the democratic government. He added that the 167-kilometre road is the “main strategic road” that connects GB with the Karakoram Highway at Jaglot.